Shenandoah National Park, which is long and narrow, follows the Blue Ridge from the southwest to the northeast. Today, the forests are returning; they are covering over the scars of cattle grazing, farming, and logging. Native animals are returning as well; black bears, raccoons, and opossums, America's only marsupials, now roam here again, as they did in pioneer days.
Visitors to Shenandoah National Park can walk into the past by visiting the Corbin Cabin, a typical mountaineer's home. The cabin was built in 1910 by George Corbin and several of his friends, who cut and hewed its logs.
The Corbin family lived there for many years, subsisting on what they could grow or make. Today, the cabin is maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, which rents it to members and the general public. The club also operates other rustic cabins along the Appalachian Trail.
At the Byrd Visitor Center, exhibits tell more of the story of the people who lived in these mountains from prehistoric times to the opening of the park. The park is also the home of Camp Hoover, which was President Hoover's getaway from Washington, D.C.
Hoover's initial mandate for his retreat was fairly simple: He required it to be within 100 miles of the capital, at an elevation too high for mosquitoes, and very close to a trout stream. Government officials still use the cabins at Camp Hoover on weekends.
Hikers in Shenandoah will find a variety of trails, many leading to panoramic overlooks that take in the rolling Piedmont country to the east or the wide Shenandoah
Valley to the west.
Shenandoah National Park Photo Opportunities
Be sure to capture some shots for your family photo album during your visit to Shenandoah. Here are a few photo ops you don't want to miss:
- Skyline Drive: The park is bisected by this roadway, which runs along the crest of the mountains for approximately 105 miles. It offers 75 overlooks and magnificent vistas of forests, mountains, and the historic Shenandoah Valley.
- Corbin Cabin: One of only three log structures to have survived a recent forest fire, Corbin Cabin serves as the primary example of a traditional mountain cabin in the area.
- Turk Mountain: At 2,981 feet, the summit of Turk Mountain offers incredible views of the Shenandoah Valley, Allegheny Mountains, and the George Washington National Forest.
- Hogback Overlook: This scenic spot offers a look at many of the bends of the meandering Shenandoah River.
The Shenandoah region has a rich and colorful history, which we will examine on the next page.